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Thursday, December 3, 2009

X-men Origins: Wolverine (2009) review. A Feral Hearless Beast...

Overall verdict: 5.5/10

The Good: Excellent acting, awesome special effects, Hugh Jackman at his fittest

The Bad: Too many characters and not enough story, superficial take on Wolverine's "origin", lack of emotional depth, over-reliance on special effects and action

Current Availability status in Singapore: DVDs on sale now in all major DVD shops.

(the DVD is a 3 disc special edition with over 2 hours worth of extras for the same price as a regular single-disc edition. Real value for money!)
DVD features:
disc 1
- "Wolverine unleashed" behind the scenes featurette
- Deleted scenes
- Alternate ending
disc 2
-Weapon X mutant files character profiles
- "thrill of the chase". Deconstruction of how the helicopter chase scene was made
disc 3
- "On location" directors video log
- Wolvie's greatest hits (the history of the character)
- Generation X: comic book history (complete comprehensive guide to the x-men's history in comics)

DVD Value for money Grade: A


A feral heartless beast clawing frantically at its enemies and searching in vain for something missing pretty much sums up both the character of Wolverine and this movie. It is action packed, it is fun to watch but it is also a huge disappointment if you are expecting an honest to goodness "origin" story.

Though not entirely obvious in the first viewing, its flaws are really obvious once you look past all the visual effects and this whole grand scale epic journey.

First off, for a movie entitled "X-men origins: Wolverine" one would expect a more character centered narrative that delves deep into the core of Hugh Jackman's Wolverine character; his motives, his personality, what drives him and what unusual circumstances molded him into the character as seen in the X-men movies. What we are given instead is a generic action movie with the whole "origin" bit as merely a backdrop for introducing more "cool" mutant characters.

That is the main flaw of this movie as a whole: giving in too much to the demands of the typical summer blockbuster audience and sidelining everything else. No doubt that people will be impressed with the many scenes of wanton destruction and fast paced fights that this movie delivers. Vehicles are blown up, buildings are demolished; heck even a school is practically blasted in two. There are so many moments of "wow!" that even the brain-dead can just sit back and enjoy.

Sadly the characters themselves, though played well by some very professional actors, are not enough to drive the movie. Thanks to a half baked script that favors "cool" one liners over logical narrative sense, the character interactions are not strong enough for the audience to have much of an emotional connection to any of them. Wolverine's falling out with his brother, the death of his love interest, the betrayals that led to his decision to graft Adamantium metal to his bones, they never really convey much of an emotional impact. Instead they come across very "matter-of-fact-ly"; those events just happened so that the plot could advance. Even Wolverine's portrayal of a cool kick-butt hero with a sarcastic sense of humor may incite a giggle or two with his crass jokes but anyone looking for a deeper emotional understanding of the character, look elsewhere.

Fans of the Bryan Singer X-men movies might agree that there was more emotional character development for Wolverine in 1 hour of X-men2 than there was in the entire 107 minutes of this film. The only audience that might enjoy this superficially bland piece of work are the adrenaline pumped teens looking for a quick action fix or Hugh Jackman fans who want to see more of him doing cool things.

Like its titular character, X-men Origins: Wolverine is cool, funny, and pack to the gills with heart pumping action. It slices and dices its way from one grand special-effects laden battle to the next leaving behind a paper thin plot and a core without "heart". Emotionally disappointing as a tragic origin story, this movie is never really able to find the balance that made other superhero movies like Batman Begins and Iron Man such hits.
*****************************Review End******************

Go for it: if you are a fan of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in the previous X-men movies or if you like some big brainless, special effects laden comic-book-movie action.

Avoid: if you are expecting any deeper insight into the Wolverine character other than what you already know from X-men 2 or if you expect any form of emotional involvement in a movie.

Entertainment: B-
Story: C-
Acting: A
Characters: D
Replay value: C+ for the movie, A+ for the DVD
"Brains": C

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